Weeknight Cooking

Martha Stewart's One-Pan Pasta

July 30, 2014

Every week, Food52's Executive Editor Kristen Miglore is unearthing recipes that are nothing short of genius.

Today: A simple pantry staple gets even simpler.

Martha Stewart's One-Pan Pasta

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We didn't need pasta to get any simpler. But here it is: asking even less of our attention, patience, and time; dropping steps; and getting even better as a result, and we certainly aren't going to complain.

Martha Stewart's One-Pan Pasta

Because there were still a couple things slowing us down in pursuit of our favorite weeknight meal: waiting for a big pot of water to boil, and constructing a sauce of some kind.

This pasta dispenses with both. It cooks entirely in one pan (without boiling water first) and makes its own sauce, all in about 9 minutes.

Martha Stewart's One-Pan Pasta  Martha Stewart's One-Pan Pasta

More: The fastest way to slice those tomatoes.

How? You pile dry pasta, a measured amount of water, and a few flavoring agents into a skillet, then boil the liquid away. The ratios are perfect for cooking the pasta and sauce at once, without risking too-soft (or too-crunchy) noodles, or leaving a watery puddle behind.

The only thing you need to remember to do is futz with the pasta now and again with tongs or a fork, to keep it from cooking into a brick of linguine.

Martha Stewart's One-Pan Pasta

This recipe was first published in Martha Stewart Living in June of last year, after a savvy member of their team spotted a chef using the method in a small town in Puglia. The technique made the rounds in the blogosphere and has inspired a number of spinoffs, some of which have gone beyond pasta, like Deb Perelman's farro riff.

So the method has shaved time, BTUs, and dirty dishes from our pasta cooking experience, but it comes with a number of other compelling benefits, too. For one thing, because you're cooking the pasta directly in ingredients that quickly condense into a sauce, the flavors absorb into the noodles as they cook, rather than just sitting on top.

Martha Stewart's One-Pot Pasta  Martha Stewart's One-Pan Pasta

At the same time, the pasta is giving off starch, thickening the sauce and making it creamy, despite being entirely vegan (minus the arguably optional finish of Parmesan cheese). You don't need to remember to reserve a cup of pasta water (or know what to do with it).

Though it only cooks for 9 minutes, the sauce is intensely flavored with not just fresh tomatoes, basil, and garlic, but a sweet-savory backbone of cooked onion too -- which we needn't sauté in oil first, as we always do. Here, its effect is more like a concentrated stock or soup, and not dissimilar to our other favorite pasta sauce, Marcella Hazan's tomato sauce simmered with butter and an onion.

Martha Stewart's One-Pan Pasta

This can be your pantry meal for the rest of the summer, but don't stop there. Take these basic proportions and swap in canned tomatoes, or any number of other ingredients you have on hand. Try crushed green olives or capers, peppers or prosciutto, or a chopped up bunch of greens. Fortify the liquid with stock, or wine, or Parmesan rinds. One-pan pasta is too good to limit to any single recipe, or season.

Martha Stewart's One-Pan Pasta

Martha Stewart's One-Pan Pasta

Adapted slightly from Martha Stewart Living (June 2013)

Serves 4

12 ounces linguine
12 ounces cherry or grape tomatoes, halved or quartered if large
1 onion, thinly sliced (about 2 cups)
4 cloves of garlic, thinly sliced
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
2 sprigs basil, plus torn leaves for garnish
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for serving
Coarse salt & freshly ground black pepper
4 1/2 cups water
Freshly grated Parmesan cheese

To see the full recipe (and save it and print it) here.

Got a genius recipe to share -- from a classic cookbook, an online source, or anywhere, really? Please send it my way (and tell me what's so smart about it) at [email protected]. Thank you to Brette Warshaw, juliana, and Kate Bagshaw for this one!

Photos by James Ransom

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See what other Food52 readers are saying.

  • Linda D
    Linda D
  • Maria
  • HalfPint
  • Eileen
  • vschwager
I'm an ex-economist, lifelong-Californian who moved to New York to work in food media in 2007, before returning to the land of Dutch Crunch bread and tri-tip barbecues in 2020. Dodgy career choices aside, I can't help but apply the rational tendencies of my former life to things like: recipe tweaking, digging up obscure facts about pizza, and deciding how many pastries to put in my purse for "later."


Linda D. September 9, 2019
Made this last night for supper. Followed the recipe exactly as written. What a wonderful surprise!
Maria June 26, 2017
My husband asked me not to Iose the recipe! He said it was a party of flavors in his mouth. First time I've made it but have had the recipe since it was first published. I had no issues with the pasta water ratio & used heirloom cherry tomatoes., Cooked the onion & garlic in olive oil 1st then added 1 T of tomato paste & parmesan rind then added rest of ingredients. Served it with cubes of fresh mozzarella on top which melted as we ate....DELISH!! Will make again & again!
Kwesi January 14, 2019
Did you do 12 oz or 16 oz of pasta
HalfPint August 10, 2016
This has become our go-to weeknight meal because it's always so good. Only 1 pot to wash too!
Eileen July 15, 2016
Maybe I was too quick to judge this. The flavor is excellent. I think the pasta soaking up the tomato flavors makes a difference!
Eileen July 15, 2016
I just made this from a windfall (rainfall?) of Sungold cherry tomatoes that had split on the vine after a heavy rain. It is edible.

It is also exactly as much trouble as doing exactly the same thing, except cooking the pasta separately. Yeah, I have two pots to wash. But if I have to stand there and babysit the one-pot dish as it cook (I do) that is as much trouble as cooking the pasta in one pot and putting all the sauce ingredients in the other, which requires a watchful eye but less physical intervention.

Good to know this works. It reminds me of a dish we call "hamburger glop" which I learned to make in a cabin (and, I confess, sometimes made for my kids even without the excuse of being in a cabin). Acquire 1 pound macaroni, 1 pound ground beef, and a 28-oz. can of tomatoes. Three ingredients. You have one pot, preferably a cast-iron skillet, and one burner (or a campfire). You know what to do. It tastes better than it should - even without the obvious additions it cries out for.
vschwager April 29, 2016
One pan pasta has been used for years in Italy, albeit is not widely adopted. Certain recipes are absolutely fine, for instance fresh sauces with fine spaghetti like pasta (for instance spaghetti alla chitarra with fresh tomato sauce). As with everyting it takes a bit of common sense and taste to decide which kinds of pasta you can cook using this technique, without pretending you can fix lasagna using it.
Allyn B. September 17, 2015
Wait a minute... This is NEWS? I've been making a Ramen soup I developed this way for about 7 years now.
Lisa G. September 2, 2015
A little late to the conversation, but here's my 2 cents...I used 16 oz of pasta, as my family needs that much. I put in 3c water at first then as it evaporated I added about 1c white wine to finish it off. Just before the liquid completely evaporated i took it off the heat and covered it to set. It turned out great! not gluey or sticky, al dente and the sauce that developed was full flavored and creamy. Everyone felt it was a keeper!! can't wait to try other veggies/different flavor profiles.
Kathryn R. July 23, 2015
I think I tend to be 'too precise'..Yes,I do..!?? Your tips have been most welcomed.I see my pasta dish in my fridge has solidified so will portion a bit out and reheat later..Thanks so much for all of your handy advice!
Kathryn R. July 23, 2015
Thank you Patti so very much...how wonderful of you and such a speedy reply.It is very much appreciated. Would you say a cup and a half of the sliced tomatoes?I did not have basil,so used from my deck garden(I am in a condo)fresh lemon oregano and a bit of chili oregano..Not bad!!I welcome any ideas please. Kathryn!
Patti F. July 23, 2015
The packages of these tomatoes are marked with weight when I buy them in store...think they are already 12oz but may only be 8 oz. Haven't bought for awhile so can't say for sure. I would never use a measuring cup though as I have a small food scale. However, as far as I'm concerned..don't think a few extra tomatoes would hurt recipe much..lol A good hefty 3 handfuls should do the job! You can also buy small packages of fresh basil if you ever do want to try. I have 4 kinds growing in my herb garden and look forward to trying a small combo of all! :)
Patti F. July 30, 2015
Kathryn you are absolutely correct! This was way to soupy..as I just made today. It is tasty but think have remedied problem. :)
Adjust recipe as follows:
Use 3 cups water ( or chicken or vegetable broth)
When liquid begins to dissipate add more- up to 1 cup more water or both as needed...OR I would prefer to use wine!!
That is how I plan to make next time!! Good luck..think you will be pleased with results. :)
Kathryn R. July 22, 2015
I ended up with far too much water/broth whatever..????Help what to do????I was trying to convert the gr./oz to cups!?? Please assist me thank you!!It did not turn out for me!???
Patti F. July 23, 2015
Maybe this will be easier..use 1 liter (~4 cups water) in your recipe. If sauce begins to get too thick or pasta is sticking, add additional 150ml (~1 /2 cup) water. Hopefully those measurements are more accurate for you.
annie July 14, 2015
This is tremendously good using 2/3 chicken or vegetable broth, and 1/3 water instead of the 4 1/2 cups of water.
Patti F. July 30, 2015
and add wine! :)
Patti F. July 14, 2015
Where do I go to see my saved recipes??
Kristen M. July 14, 2015
Hi Patti, click on the icon at the very top right of the page and you should be able to find all your profile info, including saved recipes! Sorry for the confusion.
Patti F. July 15, 2015
TYVM....found them! :)

Kevin B. July 13, 2015
Pasta comes in 16 ounce portions. Why not this recipe?

This is a big problem, in my opinion. Food & Wine always does this, too, when it comes to recipes. Just make the recipe for 16 ounces of pasta.
Patti F. July 30, 2015
I think you will find that 16oz will work better in this recipe anyway as when using 12oz is way too soupy! ;)
Allison July 13, 2015
I attempted to make this with gluten-free pasta. It was terribly unsuccessful. Too starchy and gummy, as well as bland. The skins from the tomatoes sloughed off into unappetizing chunks in the sauce. Blech.
I_Fortuna July 23, 2015
I am assuming that your pasta was made with rice. Wheat pasta cooks much differently. Rice noodles cook faster in my experience. Perhaps if you follow the package directions for your pasta and then add the other ingredients and toss, it might work better. I hope so. : )
Andrew July 13, 2015
"Futz" is such a great word...does what it says on the tin. Another one I got from my Mother-in-law is "Boudouffle" (pronounced Boo Doo Full - from the French - Boudouffler) which is the noise a thick sauce makes when it is just coming to the boil...any more out there?
Kristen M. July 13, 2015
I feel like Yiddish is full of these -- schlep and schvitz are a couple of my favorites, and I think they're pretty irreplaceable.
Andrew July 14, 2015
"schlep" I get but how/what/whom does one "schvitz"?
Kristen M. July 14, 2015
If you were in NYC with our 71% humidity today, you would understand all too well what it is to schvitz. I sometimes think of vegetables as schvitzing too, but I might be alone in this.
Cassi S. October 29, 2014
I made this and it was delicious. The only problem I ran into was that cooking the fresh cherry tomatoes that long caused the skins to separate and become rubbery in the dish... The flavor was good but the skins ruined the texture for me.
Herlinda H. September 16, 2014
This is the basis of Mexican Fideo! My mom has been cooking it for years. Spaghetti, little shells and of course, vermicelli. But we brown the pasta first w the oil, cumin and onion. then add the broth,canned tomatoes w juice and water. Cover and let it be for a while. Kids love it w grated cheddar or jack
robert F. August 9, 2014
in the microwave, one can of stock,one can diced tomatoes,seasoning of choice,maybe even such things as mushrooms, vegetables,a can of tuna or 2 or frozen raw shrimp or routisserie chicken on top of bowtie or fusilli pasta (8-9 OZ) in a quart size covered tupperware for 20 mins. at 90% power perfect Al Dente Pasta every time
Lora W. July 13, 2015
20 minutes in the microwave vs 9 minutes on the stovetop? Stovetop wins.
robert F. July 13, 2015
and i can be doing other things on the stove or whatever without having to stir...when you stir you activate the starch which ends up in some instances as gluey or over starchy tasting...with my method the moisture is gradually absorbed with the pasta staying firmer and most important for me as a single man the leftovers reheat much better and keep their texture.....I have run restaurants and this method is fool proof with certain pastas like fussilli and bowtie pasta
Sasha (. August 4, 2014
Love this! I saw the concept floating around when it first came out - a good reminder to try it out... the perfect summertime solution :)